North seeks UN meeting over joint military drills

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North seeks UN meeting over joint military drills

UNITED NATIONS - North Korea asked Friday for an emergency meeting of the UN Security Council to protest upcoming joint military exercises between the United States and South Korea, saying they increase the danger of war on the Korean peninsula.

North Korea’s Deputy Ambassador Ri Tong-il criticized the council for its failure to respond to the country’s July 21 letter requesting a meeting. He said the joint exercises are a threat to international peace and security that must be addressed.

If there is any “spark” during the exercises, Ri warned, “it would easily and immediately turn into war” and the United States and the Security Council will be responsible for the deaths.

He said Washington and Seoul are hinting they will push ahead with the mid-August exercises involving between 400,000 and 500,000 U.S. and South Korean forces, despite Pyongyang’s opposition.

Ri accused the United States of engaging in “nuclear blackmail” by bringing nuclear-armed ships, submarines and bombers to South Korea for military exercises.

“As long as the U.S. is threatening with missiles ... we will do the same,” he said.

North Korea has already “made clear” that its long-range ballistic missiles “are targeted at the U.S. since the U.S. is targeting Pyongyang,” Ri said.

Kurtis Cooper, spokesman for the U.S. Mission to the United Nations, said the annual joint military exercises “are transparent, defense-oriented” and have been carried out openly for about 40 years.

Despite its opposition to the upcoming military exercises, Ri said North Korea “will attend the Asian Games” in September in Seoul.


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